"To the ardent supporters of these two colleges, even the Yale-Harvard game is but a minor incident in comparison to the deciding of this championship. No matter how many games Lehigh may lose during the season, she always tackles Lafayette with a sturdy confidence and hope of victory.
"No matter how many great games Lafayette wins in the season she always enters this struggle ready to fight, knowing that upon the outcome depends the real success or failure of the season and knowing that her opponents will be worthy of every possible effort."
After an era of near-complete dominance by Lafayette in "The Rivalry", in 1912 the roles of the Brown and White and the Maroon and White were suddenly reversed, and the student writer at The Lafayette knew it.
"Sweeping victories for the past three years have caused Lafayette to assume a rather superior feeling toward Lehigh," the reporter said. "Not so this year. Lehigh has the best team that has represented that institution in the past ten years."
1912 represented giant changes when it came to the rules of of college football. As the Brown and White reported, touchdowns were now six points instead of five, and it now took four downs to gain 10 yards instead of three.
Also, thanks to the increased use of the forward pass, playing fields were shortened from 110 yards to 100 yards, and end zone areas were designated. This was a key element in altering the game to allow for the development of the forward pass. "The purpose of this is to provide amply[sic] space for execution of the forward pass, and scoring on a pass made across the goal-line into this zone is permitted."
In 1911, it was a powerful Lafayette team that was beaten by the HB Jim Thorpe-powered Carlisle Indian School 19-0. In 1912, it was Lehigh, led by two budding stars, QB Pat Pazzetti and coach/HB Tom Keady, who would play against the football powerhouse and fall, 34-14.
Under the cringingly-politically incorrect 1912-era headline "Lehigh's Forward Passes Baffle Redskins," the Brown and White reported recapped this game with the type of pro-Lehigh slant you might expect. Hilariously, once you dig into the details of the game, you also see how completely inaccurate it was as well.
The Indians won the toss, and Thorpe kicked off to Pazzetti, promptly at 3:00 o'clock.... With five yards to gain on a fourth down, Pazzetti attempted a forward pass to Vela which Thorpe intercepted, and carried eighty-five yards for a touchdown. Thorpe kicked the goal. Time, 3:04 P.M.So much for "baffling" Thorpe and the Carlisle Indians, who surged past the Brown and White easily after Pazzetti equalized early with a touchdown pass to George Hoban, who "threw himself across the goal for the first touchdown."
While Thorpe would score three touchdowns, and Carlisle's other sturdy back, HB Alex Arcasa, would add a couple more, the Brown and White seemed to have no doubt as to why Carlsile won. "Thorpe did wonderful work for the Indiana, and it was his work alone that decided the victory," omitting the contibutions of the hall-of-fame head coach, Charles "Pop" Warner, G Stan Powell and a host of other legendary players from that 1912 national championship team that would also end up beating Army up at West Point.
Going into the Lafayette game, it was Lehigh's defense that really stood out.
Aside from Thorpe and Arcasa's five touchdowns, and a 35-0 setback to one of the most powerful teams in the East, Princeton, Lehigh only gave up a field goal in their seven victories in the run-up to the Rivalry in a 7-3 win over nearby Muhlenberg.
Especially big for Pazzetti and Lehigh's football team were wins over Navy, 14-0, and Swarthmore, 3-0, two very strong teams of the time.
"Defeat was bitter for the Middies, as it was the first one their team had suffered for three seasons, and many of them had never seen their eleven beaten," the Brown and White reported. "Nearly all of the plays were stared from a formation of the backs similar to the old kick formation, and in nearly every case the man with the ball had little or no help. The skill displayed by Captain Pazzetti in leading the team, and his remarkable gains with the ball were features of the game."
"Lehigh broke Swarthmore's winning streak last Saturday afternoon on Whittier Field at Swarthmore in one of the most exciting games ever seen there, by administering a 3 to 0 defeat to the Garnet team," the Brown and White reported. "Undoubtedly the most conspicuous player in the game was Captain Pazzetti, who, in the last period of play kick the field goal that brought victory to the Brown and White eleven."
While the paper's praise mostly was heaped on Pazzetti, the coaching and use of "interference" was pioneered by Tom Keady, who would coach the Brown & White for eight seasons before embarking on a hall-of-fame thirty-year head coaching career that would land him at Vermont, Case Western, UMass, and Dartmouth. At the time of his death in 1964, the field at Taylor Stadium was to be renamed "Keady Field", and it was in 1912 when his legend started for Lehigh.
In comparison, Lafayette entered the contest 3-5-1 and a team racked by injury. In the game before the Lehigh game, a 21-7 setback to Brown, team captain, C Howard L. Benson, didn't play due to injury, and two more starters fell as well. "Despite the fact that Brown won, there is no word but praise for the valiant fight the team made under such overwhelming odds," the Lafayette reported.
Still, there was no yield from Lafayette in the run-up to the game. "I feel it in my bones that we are going to beat Lehigh," Benson said in a statement to the student paper.
On the Lehigh side, entertainment in the run-up to the game was provided in the form of a "smoker", a gathering of students and faculty where the boys and men would smoke tobacco products, hear rousing speeches, and other entertainment. "Following a number of songs and cheers for Lehigh and the team, the annual Freshman-Sophomore game of basket-ball was announced in which the Sophomores won out by the score of 30 to 15," the paper said. Following a vaudeville act, a wrestling exhibition and a rousing speech by Coach Keady, the attendants then went on their annual parade through "the Bethlehems", where they serenaded the girls of Moravian.
The "Student Special" train from the Lehigh Valley station took the Lehigh faithful to the game, a special 1:20 train that cost 50 cents to ride, round trip.
The Lehigh students would see a very fierce battle between the two bitter rivals, with Lehigh, this time, coming out on top, 10-0 in front of a crowd of over 12,000 people or 15,000 fans, depending on which account you read.
"For the first time since the 11 to 5 Lehigh victory in 1908, the Brown and White eleven gave Lafayette a defeat last Saturday afternoon on March Field, Easton before a record crowd," the Brown and White reported. "Despite the fact that the Lehigh team was outweighed by far, they entered into the game from the start with the determination to fight to the end, and which was backed up by the perfect cheering of the entire college seated in the east stands."
"In one of the greatest gridiron battles of the East, the Maroon and White of Lafayette was forced to bow to the Brown and White of Lehigh last Saturday," the Lafayette reported. "The goal of attainment has been reached. After three years of defeat, Lehigh has succeeded in defeating her old rival, and in crossing the Maroon and White goal line the first time since 1908."
"Lehigh came to Easton fully confident of victory," the paper continued, "realizing that the opportunity of opportunities was at hand. Well fortified with one of the strongest elevens in the history of the institution, built around Hoban, the old Dartmouth halfback, Sawtelle from Georgetown, Pazzetti, the old Wesleyan quarterback, McCaffrey from the same institution, and Keady, a Texas College man, Lehigh presented an aggregation of players well worthy the best of opposition," not-so-subtly implying that, perhaps, the Brown and White transferred their way to greatness.
Interestingly, Hoban, in Lehigh's team photo that year, wore a Dartmouth sweatshirt, that can be seen above. But the students at the Brown and White didn't seem to care much about the source of their players as long as they finally were able to score against the Maroon and White.
Following a ticket dispute - Lafayette finally made 400 more tickets available to Lehigh on the day before the game - the stands were packed, including Lafayette College's band, and many "feminine partisans," according to The Lafayette. "Every seat was occupied and thousands were standing. Massed on the west side of the field was the Maroon and White legion, and on the east side the Brown and White adherents were gathered."
"In the third quarter, when Captain Pazzetti sent the ball rocketing between the uprights for a field goal, all the pent-up energy of four years burst forth and pandemonium reigned in the Lehigh stands," the Lafayette reported. Pazzetti's pass to Sautelle - the first touchdown pass ever recorded by Lehigh in "The Rivalry" - resulted in an ovation by the Lehigh fans, according to the Brown and White. "It was not until that pass that the confidence of victory by the Maroon and White was shaken," the Lafayette said.
The intensity of this Rivalry was so evident in this game, especially reading both accounts by the student newspapers. While football games occupied the papers' headlines, it seemed, every week, the large spreads by both papers on this particular seem to indicate that even back then they knew this wasn't just any old football game - as did the tone of their recaps.
"Lafayette has been so accustomed to victory over Lehigh that it was rather hard to be entirely generous and be happy even in defeat," the Lafayette reported.
"After four years of climbing, Lehigh has won," a gushing Brown and White reported. "After years of working against odds, and heavy ones, Lehigh's loyal sons have succeeded in putting onto the field a team which has proven itself the conqueror of Lafayette in one of the most desperately faought games that was ever played between the old rivals.
"When Pazzetti's magnificent place-kick went spinning between the Lafayette goal-posts, the hardships of past endeavors were forgotten, uphill climbing was but a memory. We had beaten Lafayette - and joy knew no bounds."